Author Topic: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)  (Read 13491 times)

Offline Alec Furtado

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Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« on: July 30, 2008, 02:02:34 PM »
OK so here is the deal. I plan on starting a club at my high school as a community for traceurs. While there are experienced guys, I know that people new to parkour will want to join. Because of this, teaching them all aspects correctly will be critical. I feel that I have a good hold on what parkour is and I can do quite a lot, but teaching to beginners is not something I have done before. Working on fitness is going to be just as important as working on technique--vaults, rolls, etc. So, if you were going to teach a bunch of newbies, how would you start? I do have ideas of my own, but I want to get suggestions from those who have actually done this before. Both my friend and I will be doing this. We will conduct "sessions" every day after school.

One thing I have in mind is that to join the club, you are required to attend an open gym at this place right down the road from me school, ~half mile run. It seems almost built for parkour and is an awesome tool. Otherwise, I have the feeling that they would never go there, even if I constantly told them about it.

EDIT: It may help to explain what facilities are available... there is a school weight room with about everything you can want. There is also a large padded room (firm and 1 1/2 inches thick, but it is padding). There are a few large wooden boxes that the cheerleaders would use, maybe 3x3x3 ft, and they have a lot of those step up platforms for plymetric training. My friend and I have mapped out a ~4 mile run, but there are many, many places to run. There is a LONG set of dead train tracks behind the school that we can use for balancing. There are quite a few fences that are nice to vault over but I don't thing school officials would approve. There are almost no large drops around the school... nothing over 4-5 ft maybe. There are a few railings and tons of picnic tables. There is a high, 12-15 foot wall that could be used but I don't think they would like that either. There are a few other things on campus but not ones you would practice the basic techniques on.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2008, 02:17:49 PM by Furtado »
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Offline Charlie" Frontflip" Chase

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2008, 06:14:51 PM »
Try searching for other topics like these, I'm sure you could find all sorts of good advice in them.
http://www.americanparkour.com/smf/index.php?topic=2591.0
There should be some info here to help you out. Goodluck.
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Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2008, 06:37:24 PM »
Well that board seems mainly for help starting a club and getting it accepted by the school. The club is already accepted, I just need help and tips on how to introduce the newbies to this great discipline... what order to teach things (if it matters)... should I probably get them in-shape first before we start doing anything... how should I approach it.
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Offline Jereme Sanders

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2008, 07:03:56 PM »
I'm always a proponent of Showing them some decent conditioning stuff to give them an idea of where they are at physically, a good amount of fun technique work so they don't get bored but still have conditioning you know, try and show them something new each time you train with them. Make them work hard. Show them the importance of a good warm up and cool down as well as flexibility, not progressing too fast, etc.

Hope this helps, if you have any more questions feel free
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Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2008, 07:56:39 PM »
Madpk always structures its training sessions thusly:

1. Warm-up
2. Conditioning
3. Skills work/drills
4. Obstacle coursing/follow-the-leader/"flow" work
5. Free time to work on personal goals/skills, play on obstacles, etc.
6. Stretch/cooldown (sometimes this part doesn't always happen like it should)

The first part of our warmup is always the same; it's sort of our "official" Madpk warmup to get the blood flowing and the joints loose. The second part will always have footwork/agility, QM, and upper and lower body exercises as well as dynamic hip opening stretches. We may emphasize one of these parts more or less depending on what our training objective is for the day and what that means for the body.

Conditioning will be directly related to our training objective for the day and/or week (we have weekly challenges at Madpk). Sometimes we will individualize certain things if individual people need to condition certain things or are lacking in certain strength/speed/coordination areas.

Skills work is simple drilling/breaking down of a particular skill that relates to our training objective for the day/week (e.g. a certain vault, balance, precisions, footwork, wall climbs, jump distance, etc. Lots of skills to choose from here!)

Follow-the-leader/obstacle coursing is pretty much what it says. We run through a route in our environment, getting over obstacles in whatever ways we can.

Free time is for people to just play and work on individual skills. We are trying to cultivate a very strong work ethic in this part of our training because often people will spend time socializing. This will come over time, mostly through modeling by us of the behavior we want. (I will talk more on modeling later).

Stretching/cooldown is done together, following a pretty set format, although we sometimes emphasize some stretches over others as needed depending on what we've worked on for the day.

My suggestions are to establish your training objectives for the year, then break that down into monthly training objectives, then weekly, then daily. From there, you will have a single purpose for each lesson, and then you can plan your lessons "backwards" from that. Your objectives should include general conditioning/fitness benchmarks, parkour skills benchmarks, and "conceptual" benchmarks (e.g. understanding the ideas of safety, conditioning/training, respect, relationship to fear, fitness, etc.) that you want them to achieve by the end of the school year. Then from there you work backwards to try to ensure that your daily training sessions get them there one step at a time.

I have a huge article (okay actually it was an email to Zac when he asked a similar question) about how to plan lessons/training sessions. If you'd like, I can dig it up for you and paste it here.

The other big piece is modeling. People learn far more by what they see/watch you do than by what you say. If you want people to work hard, you will have to work hard yourself. If you want people to eat well and train seriously, then you have to live that yourself. Basically the best way to be an effective teacher of traceurs is to be an exemplary traceur yourself. And I don't mean necessarily in your skills, but in your approach to the discipline. You absolutely must put safety and respect and hard work first, because if people have internalized these qualities, then teaching them the physical skills will be much easier. This is what I mean by modeling the behavior you want. You have to establish your training culture from the very beginning, through your actions and the tone of your first training session, and then live it the rest of the year. To quote Harry Wong, regarded as a master educator by pretty much every teacher in the world, "If you screw up the first day, you're dead meat the rest of the year."

Lastly, people learn parkour by doing parkour. If you could learn parkour just by hearing about it, we'd all be as awesome as David Belle by now. So you have to demonstrate fully what you want people to do, and then let them try it out. They will screw up, and it will not be pretty. Give them only one or two pointers at a time, and let them work on those. Obviously if what they are doing is not safe you have to stop them. But if they are just messing up because it's tricky/new for them, let them keep at it, and let them work it out on their own. They also will do better "getting it" if you *show* them again, rather than just telling them. But let them/make them DO the movement, and keep doing it either until they get it or until they are showing mental fatigue. Then have them move on to something else and come back to the other movement later if they want.

Remind them and encourage them to practice. Newbies feel uncomfortable trying something for the first time and if it's mostly young guys (which it probably will be) there will be this macho thing they will likely try to hide behind to hide their insecurity at looking like a dork trying something new. :) So have them do stuff in small groups or tell them to "spread out and try this on your own. Do at least 5 of them on each side and I will come around and help you." If they are all busy working on getting their 5, they will realize that no one else is watching them and they will feel more comfortable trying. But get them moving and doing it! Otherwise their insecurity will have them all standing around and they won't get anywhere. Also on this same note, give them a specific number to do. Show them a skill, then say, "Do 5 of these on your own" (or 20 or however many). Otherwise they may do one feeble attempt and then feel silly and give up. You want to reinforce practice.

Also, I assume that since this is an official club you will have a teacher or school official working with you (please be sure you do, given liability, etc.). Make sure you have your teacher/club advisor on board with you. He/she will have excellent insight into how to set up training sessions, since it's basically what teachers do. :) So work closely with that person to get ideas and also to establish a level of supervision/authority to your club.

Hopefully this is helpful. Good luck!
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Offline Graham Hughes

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2008, 08:40:23 PM »
Thanks for that!  I've got a little troop of newbies where I live that I've been trying to teach the basics to.  Nothing formal like a club or anything, just some friends who were interested in learning parkour.  I've been trying to reinforce the idea of repetition and safety while simultaneously teaching them a lot of new things all at once, but it's a bit difficult to balance.  I'm never sure if I'm pushing these concepts too hard or not hard enough.  I don't want them to get intimidated, but I don't want recklessness either.  They seem to be taking to it well, so I guess I'm doing all right, but it's still a weird experience.   :-\

Anyway, I'll take these things into consideration.  Thanks!

Offline Nick Kelly

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2008, 10:06:33 PM »
I'd hardly call myself an expert (training for a year + a few months, and helping lead training sessions/leading sessions for a couple months under a year), but here are a few things we've picked up in the past year:

1. Like has already been mentioned, be sure to have a good warm-up before training. To not do this is suicide for the joints. A really simple warm-up is just QM. You can start people out at around 5 minutes straight of QM (switching types to work a variety of muscle groups), but you should get people up to 10 minutes straight fairly quickly (and continue increasing the length as you becomes stronger).

2. Before you do anything at practice, ask everyone how they're feeling. Make sure you are aware of any little injuries people are nursing, and any other pertinent info. As the leader of the training session you'll need to know this stuff to know what everyone can safely handle.

3. For specifically beginning people in parkour... I've found that wall runs (pop vaults, whatever you want to call movements over tall-ish to tall obstacles) are great for people who are just beginning. I like to start people with wall runs because they don't take an overwhelming amount of technique and are physically tough and rewarding. Also, when training people, do your best to not teach them a laundry list of techniques (like vaults). Just focus on efficiency of movement, and not worry too much about making sure people can do different vault techniques. While it can be tough to teach like this, I've found that learning parkour as a list of movements really hinders your creativity with your movement. Wall runs are a great example of something that you can start people out with that won't lock them into training a specific set of techniques.

4. Don't neglect balance training. This is something we've only fairly recently realized the importance of, here in Columbus. Balance builds the stabilizer muscles in your legs which can help prevent injury, among a number of benefits (and its lower impact so you can train it as long as you want and not worry about joint issues).

5. Again as already mentioned, stretch after practice. Its very important to stretch after you train to help prevent injury and reduce recovery time.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2008, 10:09:00 PM by Nick Kelly »

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2008, 11:17:31 PM »
Thanks guys! This has definitely filled quite a few holes.

One thing I'm worried about is that we will have a bunch of people show up, but once they learn that you actually need to work hard, they will wuss out. I know a few will keep with it but I think the quite a few might think it's too hard... possibly even go out on their own and end up hurting themselves. And then there is the group that will want to learn how to backflip off a roof immediately... :-\
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Offline Nick Kelly

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2008, 06:16:28 AM »
Thanks guys! This has definitely filled quite a few holes.

One thing I'm worried about is that we will have a bunch of people show up, but once they learn that you actually need to work hard, they will wuss out. I know a few will keep with it but I think the quite a few might think it's too hard... possibly even go out on their own and end up hurting themselves. And then there is the group that will want to learn how to backflip off a roof immediately... :-\

You will have a HUGE turn over. Its just how it works. Many people come into parkour thinking its all just jumping off stuff, and never come back when they realize there's actually a lot of work.

(We once actually had someone tell us that "his wife had to pick him up" and he left in the middle of our warm-up lol.

Offline Alissa J. Bratz

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2008, 06:25:31 AM »
Usually the people who are put off by the amount of work involved are not the type to go off on their own later and try to backflip off a roof. They get into this "sour grapes" type mindset (almost) that parkour is not for them, and they reverse-justify why they "can't" do it (too busy, etc.). You may have a few who do try stuff on their own but there really isn't much you can do about them. All you can do is incorporate safety as a major tenet of your training and those who are interested in following you, will. Those that aren't are on their own.
She followed slowly, taking a long time,
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and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly.
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Offline NOS - from Parkour Mumbai

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 10:37:01 PM »
This thread was referenced in a similar thread asking for teaching help on the first page.

I have a huge article (okay actually it was an email to Zac when he asked a similar question) about how to plan lessons/training sessions. If you'd like, I can dig it up for you and paste it here.
Muse, that was an awesome post, and I am really interested in reading the rest of that huge email you sent to Zac about planning lessons. If you do not mind digging it up again, would you please share it with us?
Thanks.

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 10:50:02 PM »
This thread was referenced in a similar thread asking for teaching help on the first page.
Muse, that was an awesome post, and I am really interested in reading the rest of that huge email you sent to Zac about planning lessons. If you do not mind digging it up again, would you please share it with us?
Thanks.

You may want to PM and/or find her e-mail. Her profile page says she hasn't been on since Nov 3rd.


p.s. I guess to follow up since this was my thread... the teaching was successful ;)
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Offline Tyler Summers

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2011, 10:13:51 PM »
I am working on starting a new PK\FR club mostly parkour though. I have filled out the worksheet and have gotten signatures of kids who want to join and learn I am the president and my friend is vp. The club meetings are going to be on Wednesday after school for about 2 and a half hours. For now I think that will be enough time to teach them plus the out of school trainning sessions that we will most likley have. It is saterday right now and tomarrow and Monday I will get together with my friend so we can plan out what we will teach on Wednesday then Thursday we will see if anyone else wants to join and I will turn in the worksheet to the athletic advisor so we can get this thing started. Do you think this is the best way to go about this? If not what should I improve?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 10:17:23 PM by Tyler Summers »
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Offline max eisenberg

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2011, 07:11:31 AM »
personally i find the real beauty of parkour to be outside with the elements. pain and hardship is as much a part of parkour as success.

being outside makes you think more calculated, makes you have a back up plan for your back up plan. i also find people tend to move more for themselves outside on concrete and grass than in the gym with big fluffy mats every where. anyone one will try just about any jump or vault if they dont care about falling.

outside, they bring their own personal flair and adapt themselves to what they are good at.

gym = safety, good for showing them moves and letting them get used to those moves

outside = real parkour where they use their mind as much as their body. there is just more of a threat and more things they need to adapt to.

also, there is nothing like feeling concrete on your skin. when you climb up and your wrists get cut up and burned from the wall, or when you cut your hand on a sharp rock doing qm or when you rip your pants playing on scaffolding  :P

idk, its just all part of the experience for me. it took me 6 years to even see the inside of a gym.


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Offline Shae Perkins

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2011, 06:34:31 AM »
One thing I know from experience is that high schoolers interested in Parkour don't give a shit about conditioning or philosophy. You gotta be realistic, they came to jump on stuff. Let them play!!
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Offline Jordan Strybos

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2011, 09:34:16 AM »
One thing I know from experience is that high schoolers interested in Parkour don't give a shit about conditioning or philosophy. You gotta be realistic, they came to jump on stuff. Let them play!!

Meh, I wouldn't necessarily say let them play...Sure, they will be more interested in the more exciting aspects of parkour than the conditioning, but that doesn't give you an excuse to neglect those aspects. What you want to do is offer a combination of both types. Don't bore them to death and overwhelm them with deeply philosophical statements, but don't just set them loose. Give them a taste of the conditioning, a taste of the philosophy behind the training, and then have fun (instead of letting them go and do their own thing, maybe lead them on a follow-the-leader style obstacle course, or play a game of tag)! You never know, some people will be more interested in the mental aspects than others, and those people will present themselves if you give them the opportunity.

Offline Matthew Wang

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2011, 10:14:45 AM »
Thanks guys! This has definitely filled quite a few holes.

One thing I'm worried about is that we will have a bunch of people show up, but once they learn that you actually need to work hard, they will wuss out. I know a few will keep with it but I think the quite a few might think it's too hard... possibly even go out on their own and end up hurting themselves. And then there is the group that will want to learn how to backflip off a roof immediately... :-\

Starting a high school parkour club is difficult. You will quickly find that almost everyone interested, if not all of them, will be joining and hoping to gain what you did not expect them to want to gain. You must realize that most of the kiddies that want to join don't understand the principles of parkour, and they simple want to blaze through training, taking the biggest things the fastest way they can. They have never looked into parkour besides watching the big fancy YouTube videos. That's what I learned when I tried to teach at my high school.

I had LOTS of people interested in learning. I would say 15-20 at one time. This is when I first began to advertise that I would begin helping teach beginners after school (not as a club, but as my own thing). They all showed up, eager to learn. I asked if any of them have looked into learning parkour on their own, and none of them had. So I tried to tell them what parkour's about, briefly. After a little while, interest died and only a couple of my friends that I trained regularly with remained. Everyone else went back to their other after school activities because they lost interest.

So then I offered up again teaching some individuals parkour. I said this time I will only be there to ASSIST them in their training. I WILL NOT be babysitting them. I told them to look up parkour, learn about it, read about it, find out what it's about, and most of all: LEARN TO TRAIN ON YOUR OWN. I said we can meet 2-3 times a week, and I will be there to assist you in learning "moves" and giving tips. When one trains on their own that is when they learn what parkour is really about. I don't want them only training on their own, but that's a huge part of where the mindset of parkour comes from, in my opinion. So it's essential to learn to do that.

It worked for about 2 weeks. Then the individuals lost interest and nothing really followed through. But I wasn't really keeping a tight schedule because I had very busy school days sometimes. So it was party my fault too. If you're dedicated to a club enough, I'm sure you can make it work.

One thing I would like to point out is I'm almost against people being brought into parkour with classes and teachings in a way. This is because when one becomes dependent on those classes to train, well they're not really doing parkour. They only train when they take their classes, and only like to train at classes. They also do not developed the problem solving skill since they're being fed by their teacher what they need to fix in their movements. They also never learn the real philosophies of parkour because they haven't joined the greater community on the internet and had discussions like the ones you see on APK. But I'm not set in stone on this idea, it's just something that I see could possibly be the result of learning parkour only through classes. But classes have advantages too: Learning safely and learning from the experienced.

But I was just pointing out that you should teach them not to become dependent on your club, Alec. Teach them to train on their own, and be able to learn on their own. Don't babysit them. Once you spoon-feed them it will hinder their ability to learn, in my opinion. I'm not saying don't teach them, I'm just saying don't make them reliant on a teacher to learn. If that makes sense.
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Offline Jordan Strybos

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2011, 12:36:03 PM »
Matthew, the post that you were responding to is over 2.5 years old, and Alec already said that the teaching was successful. Just sayin' ;)

Apart from that fact, great response! I agree with most of what you said.

Offline Alec Furtado

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2011, 04:44:49 PM »
^ True, but those are still fantastic points.

Stuff like that would be fantastic to post in the new Community Leaders forum! Feel free to repost your experience there :D
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Offline Matthew Wang

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Re: Teaching Tips? (Expert help desired)
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2011, 08:18:54 PM »
Matthew, the post that you were responding to is over 2.5 years old, and Alec already said that the teaching was successful. Just sayin' ;)

Apart from that fact, great response! I agree with most of what you said.

 :o

I didn't read the time stamps. Someone necro-posted :P

I thought this was a familiar thread...
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